Bolivian President Evo Morales stopped in Caracas on Tuesday to visit President Hugo Chávez on route to New York City for the inauguration of the International Year of Quinoa. President Morales was greeted at the international airport by Venezuelan Foreign Vice-Minister Temir Porras, but members of the Foreign Ministry declined to comment on his agenda while in the country. The ailing president ,who had been in Cuba since his latest cancer operation last December, returned to Venezuela early Monday morning and is continuing cancer treatment at the military hospital in the country’s capital.
President Chávez announced his return via his Twitter account—which had been inactive since the beginning of November—just three days after the government released pictures of him with his daughters at a Cuban hospital. The pictures and tweets came after 67 days of silence, in which the President was shielded from the public. Despite his return, it is unlikely that the nation will hear from him soon. While Information Minister Ernesto Villegas reports that he is “conscious, with his intellectual functions intact,” he also admits that the president is breathing through a tracheal tube which makes it difficult to speak.
Speculation surrounds Chávez’ surprise return, but many believe it was meant to silence the opposition leaders who maintain that the executive is unable to run the country due to his poor health. Because the Supreme Court ruled in favor of extending the timeline for his inauguration indefinitely, he is expected to take the oath of office for his fourth term now that he is back in Venezuela. Despite this extension, Venezuela could be facing another election soon. Although he has not personally treated Chávez, Dr. Carlos Castro, the scientific director of the Colombian League against Cancer in Bogota, believes that the president’s unspecified cancer is incurable and expects the executive to have to step down due to the severity of his condition. The Venezuelan Constitution requires that a new vote be held within 30 days of a president dying or stepping down.
June 1: This AQ-Efecto Naím segment looks at sustainable cities in the hemisphere.